Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fragments of My Mother


Today, my mother has forgotten how to write her name.
For this woman, an avid reader who trained me to love libraries, a business owner who put her signature to documents all her life, Alzheimer’s disease has destroyed that final link with written language.
Her writing skills have been deteriorating for quite a while. She couldn’t spell anymore. But even three weeks ago, she was able to sign a card to her sister. It seemed instinctive, her hand shaping and flowing through the many letters of her complicated last name. For 59 years she scrolled out that signature.
Today, her name was missing parts, whole segments had vanished, and it broke my heart.
Okay. We trudge on.
*****
I have missed my visits to friends in the blogging community. For a few days here, I’ve had to knuckle down and work on assignments. Met my deadline, though, yesterday.
There’s something succinct about my tendency to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done by tomorrow, and it’s written in the Alcoholics Anonymous guide to the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions:
“Consider, too, our talents for procrastination, which is really sloth in five syllables.”
I stand convicted of sloth.
But today all that is behind me, and I’m looking forward to a drive through the beautiful green countryside with a brother and my mother. The natural world in my neck of the woods flourishes with the generous rains after a three-year drought.
For some reason, a verse from the 23rd Psalm leaps into mind. “He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.”
*****
My next plan is a small-press competition called the “Poetry Project: Fragments from Sappho.”
Sappho was a timeless ancient Greek poet whose body of work includes numerous fragments of poems. Tupelo Press challenges poets to write a poem using one of 10 fragments as a first line or title.
I’m going to play around with a few. Here’s one, with a first line of a Sappho fragment:

YOUR DELICATE LAUGHTER SOARS

But I to you of a white goat sing
a tune more lusty than your sensibilities
You are too fine a goblet
to bear the peasant wine I pour
while dreaming of my shepherd
*****

25 comments:

Shadow said...

its heart-breaking to hear was disease can do to a body. *hugs*

and gosh, your poem! i certainly wouldn't have known where to go with that line, but just look at you!

Karen said...

Lovely poem!

I'm so glad your brother is there to share your sorrows right now.

Madison said...

The cruelest of all illnesses is one that attacks the mind. Big loss there.

Brian Miller said...

intrig style on the sapho...
so sorry about your mom...felt heaviness of restrained tears as i read it...

Brian Miller said...

intriguing lines of the sapho...
sorry to hear about mom...holding back tears...

LadyFi said...

That's a beautiful poem.

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. My mum's dad suffered the same fate - and it's heartbreaking.

lakeviewer said...

Now, you're on a roll!

Kim A. said...

It seems it is the little things that I need to cherish with my mom now. Thank you for your post. The white goat sing had to be the hardest fragment they offered and you did it without a hitch..awesome!!!

♥Namaste♥

Magpie said...

I can feel your pain for your mother and what's lost. Yes, at times we must "trudge on", but sometimes tears fall as we move forward. Today I am moved to tears and admire your love and strength yet again.

Poetry is good therapy.

♥ Braja said...

Yay Sappho! Love it :)

Secretia said...

She's here but she's lost. And she's lost her loved ones too, and her friends. But she still receives your love.

Secretia

Syd said...

Chris, I'm very sorry to hear that your mother can no longer write her name. My mother had beautiful handwriting but as she aged and her mind became less clear, her handwriting began to deteriorate. It was sad to me. She would write notes to remind herself to do things. I found lots of those after she died. She would write my phone numbers down over and over. I guess that was her security. Very sad stuff. I sometimes wonder what my fate will be.

TechnoBabe said...

Sorry to hear about your mother. No one can take away your concern but I know I can tell you I care.Enjoy your ride through the countryside.

chitowngreg said...

Sorry you're having to go through this. I don't think anything is much worse than the constant indignities and disappointments that Alzheimer's brings with it. I've faced it with a few family members and very much feel your sadness. Just know that you are cared for.

Monkey Man said...

It is truly sad watching what time does to the body and mind. My mother's mind is present but doesn't get enough oxygen to stay fully alert. Her body on the other hand is failing fast. It is a helpless feeling, isn't it?

The Sappho looks fun....love what you wrote.

Marion said...

I'm so sorry. It must hurt a great deal. Signing one's name is a large part of who one is...the loss is so hard on the family who remembers.

I'm glad your brother and mother are with you and that you have met your deadlines. A drive through a lovely, green countryside sounds awesome!

Nessa said...

I just can't imagine. Alzheimer's is a horrible disease.

T13 - Kindle Krazy

Matty said...

I'm saddened by this news. I can't imagine how you feel, since both my parents in the mid 70's are mentally sound. Be strong.

Like you, I am behind on reading blogs and I'm trying to catch up here.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

I'm here for you Chris if you need to chat or email, the movement of disease through those we love is at times intolerable, thank you for sharing that with us, it's quite meaningful, as are your poems...thank you
much love

Alan Burnett said...

You squeeze so much into a short post. The words about your mother left me emotionally moved and your poem filled me with admiration for your writing skills.

Steve E said...

WHY do I read this post with both sadness...and gladness?

Sappho, yes, beautiful stuff from there. REALLY!

A ride throught the mountains, I would hope someone would do that for me in the same situation.

AH...PEACE!

Susan said...

Wonderful poem. The disease where the mind goes is certainly the cruelest.

e said...

I love your poem and feel sorry for both you and your mum in dealing with the Alzheimer's, qhich is horrible for all concerned. I hope you can enjoy the time with your brother.

Woman in a Window said...

It hurts both my heart and my mind to think on this. I'm glad you're spending time with her.

xo
erin

amy said...

I understand something of your pain...my dear mother-in-law doesn't recognize any of us anymore and cannot say her own name. It IS a hideous disease - and yet, we have found the simplest joys together, playing with balloons, picking up pine cones in the yard...my daughter showing her grandma her latest doll.

I will pray for your peace and strength - and that your mom will know joy daily.

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